Tuesday, August 11

O’Brien Continues To Explain Myanmar’s Rulers

“Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery is torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always -- do not forget this, Winston -- always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever.”

Suu Kyi, Orwell, and O’Brien

In the Orwellian country that is Myanmar, the former Burma, a woman who has committed no crime can be tried and judged guilty. And that is what happened last month.

This month, in fact this week, the sentence was declared. It was originally to have been three years, but was commuted to only one and a half years.

Let’s take a minute and consider what she actually did.

When an American named John Yettaw swam across the Inya Lake to her house, she did not immediately throw him out. This assumes, of course, that she knew about his presence in the first place.

Why was he not allowed to swim to her house? Well, it turns out she was under “house arrest” for fourteen of the last twenty years. What crime had she committed that she would be under arrest for that length of time? She won an election in 1990.

No, those are not unconnected thoughts. Her crime was that she won an election in 1990. So what do the madmen who run Myanmar want? In the words of O’Brien:

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

Tuesday, August 4

Su Su Nway in Solitary Confinement in Kale Prison

A prominent Burmese labor rights activist, Su Su Nway, was placed in solitary confinement for three days after participating in a ceremony to mark the 62nd anniversary of Martyrs’ Day on June 19 in Kale Prison, in Sagaing Division, according to her sister.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy Newspaper on Tuesday August 4th, her sister, Htay Htay Kyi, said, “She was put in solitary confinement because she stood up and sang an independence anthem composed by Min Ko Naing to mark Martyrs’ Day.”

Htay Htay Kyi said she visited her sister on July 21 when she delivered medicine to Su Su Nway who said she had been denied medical care by the prison authorities.

Su Su Nway, 37, suffers from hypertension [high blood pressure] and heart disease.

In 2006, she won the John Humphrey Freedom Award for promoting human rights.

She was arrested together with two colleagues after they pasted anti-government posters on a billboard in downtown Rangoon during the monk-led uprising of 2007. She was sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison.

Su Su Nway is among 2,100 other political prisoners who are currently being detained by the Burmese military authorities.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July called on the Burmese junta to release all political prisoners before the national elections in 2010.

Burmese permanent representative at the UN, Than Swe reportedly told Ban that Burma will release prisoners before the election; however, he did not specify if political dissidents would be among the prisoners released.